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Merzbow vs Nordvargr - Partikel II

Okay, just how wrong would you be if you thought this Merzbow and Nordvargr release would throw up heaving blasts of noise and cavernous dark ambient groans? Wrong. Very, very wrong. For the most part. Partikel II is the second part of a planned trilogy between the Japanese experimental noise musician and the prolific and varied Swedish black metal / black industrial noise artist where soundsources were swapped and worked on by each of the collaborators.

Partikel II consists of four tracks, with two of the tracks 'Reakt I' and 'Reakt 2' breaking the 20 minute mark. A series of noise barrages take up the first few minutes of 'Reakt 1'. The crunching rhythms that underpin the distortion and screeching gradually break free to lead the listener on something of a merry dance. Glitchy electronics, controlled high end screechiness, snatches of layered electronic distortion all kept in check by skittery rhythms, that verge on IDM territory. It attains a real fucked-up groove, but a groove nonetheless.

The influence of Nordvargr can be found on the dark ambient undertones of 'Luxon'. They don't manage to take centre stage though due to the interplay between rhythms and stutterning electronica. They're replaced by a series of buzzing drones, and clipped static fuzz, with groaning dark ambient swells that diminshes before bowing out with yet more rhythms.

'Reakt 2' returns to the groove first encountered on 'Reakt 1', with a loose downbeat low end throb. It all starts with a rush of layered noise before crackling textures give way to a mass of disjointed rhythms with passages of windswept noise. It eventually settles on almost electronic dub rhythm, kinda reminiscent of Techno Animal. Clocking in at just under the half hour mark it never succumbs to a given sound opting instead for fluid passages of whirring and gliding electronics, occasionally given some squelchy treatments. While the noise is dense and layered it's never overstated nor harsh enough to overshadow the rhythm. You'd be hard pushed to guess the identities of the musicians involved here.

Partikel II ends on a real prime slice of dark atmospheric electronica. The scream of a petrified girl opens the final track, 'Brockengeist Elektron', amidst flickering glitches and deep, dark ambient rumbles. There's moments of crunchy textures, disembodied voices and brief snatches of melody throughout the rhythmic sinister ambience.

Partikel II is going to raise eyebrows, and I suspect there will be lots of head scratching by followers of Merzbow, Nordvargr and Cold Spring collectors. It's by far the most original piece of work from either party and the combination of noise, ambient and rhythms is by far the most listenable material from both too. So if you think you've got these two prolific musicians sussed, I'm afraid, you're going to have think again. For more information go to